News / Calgary

Three helicopter rescues performed in Kananaskis over the weekend

Provincial crews kept busy with scramblers and climbers who got into trouble

This image shows where two hikers were stranded when they were rescued from Heart Mountain on the weekend.

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This image shows where two hikers were stranded when they were rescued from Heart Mountain on the weekend.

It was a busy weekend for Kananaskis rescue crews who had to use helicopters in three separate incidents to get a total of seven people off mountains west of Calgary.

Jeremy Mackenzie, public safety specialist with Alberta Parks was involved in all three rescues. He said the most serious was on Ha Ling Peak, where a 25-year-old man fell and was left suspended by his harness.

Crews were lowered in from the helicopter on harnesses to rendezvous with the injured climber.

“It’s a pretty difficult place to deal with all the patient needs, and all the technical rope systems that are required to get someone out of that place,” he said.

Mackenzie said it took about an hour to get to the injured climber, and another hour and a half to get the patient out.

Cam Heke, spokesman for Stars Air Ambulance said met the patient at Quarry Lake Park and took him to Foothills Medical Centre in serious condition.

Mackenzie said all other rescues involved people who were scrambling up mountainsides.

At Heart Mountain, a party of two got off track as they were coming back down.

“They ended up in some very steep terrain and were full on actually climbing – they weren’t equipped for climbing,” said Maackenzie.

Those two were able to get cell phone reception and call for help. A rescue team came in by helicopter sling and brought them down the mountain. They did not need medical attention.

A party of four also needed rescuing off Mount Charles Stewart. In that case, they also used a cell phone to call for help.

“Cell phones in the Kaninaskis region are unreliable. People have to consider an alternate form of communication” he said, suggesting satellite messengers which relay GPS coordinates are a good choice.

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